San Clemente Times, Photos by Daniel Ritz
Doheny State Beach welcomed the stand-up paddleboarding world over the weekend, as the third installment of the Pacific Paddle Games was contested.
The event, which is the largest gathering of the SUP community on the planet, featured closely contested SUP races, both in the technical and distance variety, along with open division contests for paddlers of all ages and skills.
After a full day of seeding heats on Sept. 30, the finals for the professionals were held on Oct. 1 and they delivered plenty of excitement.
23-year-old Connor Baxter won his third consecutive men’s professional combined title and Annabel Anderson claimed the women’s professional title.
Baxter battled his way to a win in the men’s pro technical race and was pushed to the limit by Australia’s Lincoln Dews. Dews chased down Baxter late in the race, which features paddlers navigating through buoys, and the two were side-by-side for the final 10 minutes. It came down to a sprint to the finish line and Baxter won, finishing just two seconds ahead of Dews.
Earlier in the day, Baxter claimed the men’s pro distance race, finishing nine seconds ahead of runner-up Michael Booth and Danny Ching, who placed third.
Ching placed second in the overall championship and Matt Nottage placed third.
Anderson dominated in both the technical and distance categories.
The New Zealand native cleared the next closest competitor, Fiona Wylde, by 23 seconds in the women’s pro distance race.
The Kiwi saved her best performance for the technical finals.
Anderson finished 29 seconds ahead of Dana Point’s Shae Foudy to seal the overall title.
Olivia Piana claimed second overall in the women’s pro combined title race and Foudy took third. Foudy also placed sixth in the distance race.
A SUP youth movement would be a theme at the Games, as a young class of paddlers showed they can compete on the biggest stages. Baxter, Dews, Piana, Foudy, Wylde and Titouan Puyo all reached the podium in the professional division and all six paddlers are 26-years-old or younger.
Matt Poole and Lizzie Welborn claimed the men’s and women’s pro prone combined division titles, respectively, while Ryan Funk and Jade Howson claimed the boys and girls pro junior titles, respectively.
Here is a list of the top-3 finishers in each professional SUP division:
Men’s Pro Combined: 1. Connor Baxter 2. Danny Ching 3. Matt Nottage
Women’s Pro Combined: 1. Annabel Anderson 2. Olivia Piana 3. Shae Foudy
Men’s Pro Distance: 1. Connor Baxter 2. Michael Booth 3. Danny Ching
Women’s Pro Distance: 2. Annabel Anderson 2. Fiona Wylde 3. Olivia Piana
Men’s Pro Technical: 1. Connor Baxter 2. Lincoln Dews 3. Titouan Puyo
Women’s Pro Technical: 1. Annabel Anderson 2. Shae Foudy 3. Olivia Piana
Men’s 40+ Technical: 1. Kelly Margetts 2. Paul Jackson 3. Tamas Buday
Men’s 40+ Distance: Kelly Margetts 2. Tama Buday 3. Gregory Closier
Boys Pro Junior Combined: 1. Ryan Funk 2.Noic Garioud 3. Christian Andersen
Girls Pro Junior Combined: 1. Jade Howson 2. Erika Benitez 3. Delila Quinn
Boys Pro Junior Distance: 1. Noic Garioud 2. Ryan Funk 3. Keoni Sulpice
Girls Pro Junior Distance: 1. Erika Benitez 2. Jade Howson 3. Delila Quinn
Boys Pro Junior Technical: 1. Ryan Funk 2. Noic Garioud 3. Tiavairaut Chang
Girls Pro Junior Technical: 1. Jade Howson 2. Erika Benitez 3. Delila Quinn
Men’s Pro Prone Combined: 1. Matt Poole 2. Lachie Lansdown 3. Luke Cuff
Men’s Pro Prone Distance: 1. Matt Poole 2. Luke Cuff 3. Lachie Lansdown
Men’s Pro Prone Technical: 1. Matt Poole 2. Lachie Lansdown 3. Luke Cuff
Women’s Pro Prone Combined: 1. Lizzie Welborn 2. Harriet Brown 3. Abby Brown
Women’s Pro Prone Distance: 1. Lizzie Welborn 2. Harriet Brown 3. Abby Brown
Women’s Pro Prone Technical: 1. Lizzie Welborn 2. Harriet Brown 3. Abby Brown